Sprints // 04.03.09

Fox leaves Wolves to join Dawgs. That would be Mark Fox, soon-to-be-former Nevada coach, heading to Georgia to assume the reins of the basketball team.

Don't know him? Don't worry; no else does, either -- including people connected to Georgia. And he probably knows even less about Athens -- maybe how to find the Varsity and the Arch, but that would be about it.

Conversely the $30 million basketball training facility in which Fox will be introduced wasn't even built when he brought his first Nevada team to Athens in November 2004. And from all indications, Fox didn't have a chance to tour the UGA campus before accepting the job. ...

So coach, fans and players will be making first impressions when Fox stands on the podium late Friday morning. ...

"I don't know anything about him," said former Georgia coach Hugh Durham when asked for his impressions of him. "I really can't comment because I really know absolutely nothing about him." [EMPHASIS C&F's]

One way or another, this is going to be fun for someone to watch. Either Georgia fans, celebrating the dark horse that lead them to glory, or the rest of the SEC, enjoying the spectacular colors as the Dawg's program explodes.

When no one knows the coach and he hasn't even visited campus, there is no in-between. He will either be wildly successful, or a disaster. (Though, for the SEC's rapidly ebbing reputation, the former would probably be better for all involved.)

On the merits, Fox is an interesting choice. He has shades of Dennis Felton -- young, very successful at the mid-major level over an intermediate time-frame -- and yet that's not entirely fair. After all, there's a reason programs like Georgia (and South Carolina, which is doing quite well under Darrin Horn) hire coaches like Fox. A lot of them end up working out.

The coach carousel has stopped. Unless Andy Kennedy bolts for Memphis, the SEC slate of coaches is set, as Bruce Pearl gets an extension from Tennessee. He is, apparently, immune to orange poison. In any case, and C&F hates to say this for fear that it will end up wrong, but it appears that Pearl might be one of the few non-nomadic coaches left in college. A better opportunity with more money came around -- and he turned it down. That's saying something.

Money money money money -- money! (I) In an otherwise interesting piece on the escalating price of an SEC coach -- really, even the volleyball coaches are probably  making $500,000 these days -- Barnhart highlights the carping of some of the masses (without, for the record, indicating whether or not he agrees).

People rail about the injustice of paying millions to coach ball at a time when faculty is getting laid off at many colleges and universities. We'll certainly have another round of that with the Calipari numbers.

Okay, C&F hopes this is the last time he ever has to say this, though he doubts it. Coach's salaries generally come from athletics department funds contributed by boosters and other alumni. The only way to argue that money going to college coaches could go to professors is to argue that the money currently flowing to athletics departments would be going to academics instead.

And think about that for a moment: Do you really think Bobby Lowder would give as much to the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts as he has to Auburn football? Of course not.

There are legitimate arguments about whether college coaches should be paid as much as they are. There are legitimate arguments about whether states should do what is necessary not to lay off professors. This is not one of them.

Money money money money -- money! (II) John Calipari's UK contract has perks. Lots and lots of very nice perks, including a pair of "late-model, quality automobiles" and a 20 "lower-level" tickets per game at Rupp. Only the best for Cal. That, and $4 million a year.

At least Cal has a contract. The lack of one was at least the official reason for Billy Gillispie getting fired. Add that one to the "bad halftime interview" on the list marked "Excuses for firing a coach in the second year so you can deny it was about wins and losses when it was about wins and losses."

Counting your blessings. Auburn is just happy with being relevant again.

He wanted to go some place a little less 'crunk.' Tennessee RB Lennon Creer, whom C&F will always remember for single-handedly scoring a touchdown against Mississippi State last year, is presumably heading for a school where coaches don't make a habit of removing their shirts. No word on whether Boy Wonder told Creer he would end up working at Piggly Wiggly.

He is not the only player known for a small body of work leaving his team. Anthony Johnson of Mississippi State is doing so as well, although he seems to have had significantly less input in the matter. Who, you might ask, is Anthony Johnson? Well, you're clearly not an Alabama fan.

Ah, see. Now you remember.

'Bring on the bling.' Bring it on, indeed -- $1,000 worth a player. Each Gator will get three rings for winning two championships (the SEC and the national), and while South Carolina's academics aren't on par with Harvard or anything, I'm pretty sure we've got counting down, and 3 > 2.

Cutler becomes first QB in Chicago Bears history. Okay, perhaps that's overstating things a bit, but Jay Cutler will attempt to raise the level of play at QB for DA Bears. Given that he succeeds Kyrex Ortsman, that shouldn't be difficult.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Just sad. There's no other way to describe it. I would add, though, that it would have been nice if the reporter had avoided the roster ramifications near the end of the story. Somehow, "needs another receiver" seems to pale in comparison to "killed coming home from work."

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